The So So Glos. Live and In Conversation.

•26/01/2015 • Leave a Comment

“I can’t go to sleep without having dreams about a city exploding.”

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The So So Glos.
Live and In Conversation.

“You’re sick of the sound of your own voice, eh,” grins Alex Levine. “Me too.” Tonight is the final date of The So So Glos European tour. A majority of it has been supporting The Hold Steady but the final five dates have seen The So So Glos go it alone, in support of their second album ‘Blowout’. A twelve track roots record of aggressive, New York punk that longs for change.

Shirking the Shoreditch bar and taking to the street, I speak to Alex and his brother Ryan ahead of their headline show at London’s Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen. Walking out of an off-license, Ryan asks about the legality of drinking on the street as he opens his beer. “We’d get arrested back home. I’ve been arrested for this,” he offers before taking a swig.

Home, for The So So Glos is Brooklyn, New York. The band’s first, self-titled album was released in 2007 but they’ve been making music together since they could walk. Completed by stepbrother Zach Staggers and childhood friend, Matt Elkins, The So So Glos share the same blood they spill on stage. It’s a history they’re proud off, with last years ‘Blowout’ featuring home recordings off the childhood incarnation of the band wrestling, singing and questioning the world around them. Some things never change.

“Tour’s been a whirwind,” states Alex, sipping his drink. “We got to see a lot of different cities, playing to twenty five kids a night that really care about rock ‘n’ roll and are there for all the right reasons.”

“It’s been reminiscent of our first tour we did in the states,” Ryan adds.

“It’s as disconcerting as much as it is inspiring,” Alex continues. “I think where we’re at right now, there’s s a load of bullshit in mainstream culture. All that anyone really cares about on the internet is clickbait . Who said something risqué that we can put in a headline and get a bunch of people to click on our stupid fucking website. That’s basic journalism nowadays and rock and roll has taken a backseat. I think we’re in a dark time where there’s no generational voice, no ones really saying anything.”10696463_10152787951454738_3282477151817223751_n

The So So Glos are clearly unafraid of speaking out, so do they see themselves as a potential voice of this generation?

“That’s a lot of pressure. I think we’re one of the voices,” starts Alex. “I would say our music stands for something. We’re not afraid to say that. There’s social commentary, political undertones and subversive stuff that we tie into pop songs. They’re pop songs, they’re not exclusive. They’re anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and anti-sexist. They’re pro-fun and pro-movement. We say something, I don’t know if it’s something that hasn’t been said but nothing is new under the sun.”

“We’re not really the kind of band that’ll be mass marketed or anything like that as far as I can see. That’s not to say we don’t want to get our music out to as many people as possible,” Alex ventures. “A lot of kids come into this with a plan. It’s a very calculated list of ‘do this and this, then bleach your hair.’ We grew up doing this, we’re kids whose parents got divorced and we started a band and it was as natural as that. It’s the real deal and there’s no gimmick. It’s not something you can market or make it. It’s just what we’ve always done.”

Punk rock is often torn apart under a microscope as people become obsessed with the authenticity of it all. The first track on ‘Blowout’ is ‘Son Of An American’. Starting with a youthful reaction to Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’ the opening track is a national anthem critiquing America in the same vein as Woodie Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is Your Land’ .

“That was a ‘Kill your idols’ thing,” says Alex. “I was obsessed with Kurt Cobain and his suicide was crushing but it was calling bullshit on him. ‘Yes he does have a gun,’ and that’s wrapped into the So So Glos ideology. It’s anti narcissist, anti pretend, anti pretentious and it’s be what you are. He’s also a typical son of an American, an explosive, suicidal perfect microcosm of American culture.

I don’t think there’s anything more real than a little kid calling bullshit on his hero,” he continues.

“A lot of ‘Blowout’ is just anxiety,” explains Alex. We’re the post 9/11 generation. I can’t go to sleep without having dreams about a city exploding every once in a while, so that’s in there. It’s subconsciously buried underneath all of our psyches nowadays. That fear that we live on the fringe of something blowing up, I feel that. People are desensitised to it because we see it all the time. We have a song called ‘Xanax’ (pulled off of ‘Blowout’ because of a Phil Spector owned Darlene Love sample) which is about how staring into your phone can be a form of sedative.

“Our biggest fear is that kids will stop caring about rock and roll,” admits Alex. “I know that will never happen but we’re getting to a point where it’s so much the underdog, it’s terrifying. I’m not just talking about the genre but the spirit of it all, the rebellion and the danger. It’s endangered and I think that has a lot to do with how we communicate and our culture. The youth are tapped into the internet and electronic devices that distract. They’re playing video games when they’re two years old and borrowing their parents cell phones. We’re already done,” he warns.

“The people that feel they don’t fit in or are worried about the society they live in retreat into screens,” begins Ryan ”Maybe talking to people on the Internet is a way to deal but it doesn’t bring anyone together. Subcultures of music, punk and politics that usually intertwined don’t exist anymore. People aren’t seeking like-minded people out in the flesh; they’re looking for them on the Internet. I don’t know where this goes, butt it’s going that way. Not to be so ‘Terminator 2 about it but human interaction will lose. That spirit will lose. I don’t think it ever will because I’m an optimist but that’s a fear,” he finishes.

Alex Levine may be tired of hearing himself talk but The So So Glos come bearing an important message. They’re not attaching themselves to a scene, or a movement. They’re creating their own, just like they always have done.

“When I was five I used to dream about getting off a plane in England and there being crowds like for The Beatles and in that Bob Dylan video,” shares Ryan.

“I didn’t,” cuts Alex. “I didn’t think I was in a dream because, to me, we were already an official band. It was delusional, but that’s the way it is. We just got a little better at our instruments and got into our craft. That’s the only thing that’s changed, sadly,” he says before a pause.

“I don’t know if you should say you want to inspire bands, but I would like that to happen. If we inspire other bands, I would be proud of that.”

The So So Glos can be found on Facebook and Twitter. Their album ‘Blowout’ was one of my Top Ten Albums of 2014. and you can read my review of the show mentioned above, here.

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Candy Hearts. Glitterbomb.

•17/01/2015 • Leave a Comment

“People were saying I was dangerous to women.”

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Candy Hearts. Glitterbomb.
An interview with Mariel Loveland and John Clifford.

There’s a conversation about glitter.

Mariel Loveland is debating whether she’s overdone it with the glitter, or if her makeup is still too subtle before touring guitarist Sulene Van Der Walt draws attention to her golden top. There’s laughter and a plea from bassist John Clifford to keep any more glitz outside, for the sake of the mince pies. This dorm room conversation is far removed from the real world bustle happening outside the door.

It’s the final night of New Found Glory’s Pop Punk’s Not Dead UK tour. Twelve shows in fifteen days with a lineup that sits like a condensed Warped Tour and reads like a whose who of the genre. New Found Glory, The Story So Far, State Champs, Only Rivals and Candy Hearts. While the knee-jerk reaction to the show will revolve around the headliners and an appearance by Paramore’s Hayley Williams on the seminal ‘My Friends Over You’, the whisperings surrounding Candy Hearts first visit to the UK quickly swell into deafening roars.

Starting life as a musical outlet for Mariel Loveland while she was at college, Candy Heart’s history is a quiet one. Acoustic guitars, demo tapes and 2011’s full length album, “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy’ swim in charm, but lack the remarkable bite to ever truly escape campus. However, a six track EP released in 2012 changed all that. ‘The Best Ways To Disappear’ sees Mariel come into her own. Joined by John Clifford on bass, Matthew Ferraro on drums and Chad Gilbert producing the whole affair, it set the pace for the heartbreak glamour of 2014’s ‘All The Ways You Let Me Down’. An album that reflects on new experiences and examines, despite the laughter, if they were all good. An album about responsibility and becoming a real adult. A triumph of melody and defiance.

“I really want people to listen to the lyrics,” says Mariel. “People assume all the songs are about boys but I think what’s special about our record is that not all the songs are love songs. A lot of them are about personal struggle,” she continues.

“I think Mariel just tried to be as honest as possible with everything she did. As a friend I know exactly what the songs are about and I respect that. A lot of people don’t write about how they really feel and she 100% does,” concludes John.

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“I do like really dark music, I love Brand New, but that’s not the kind of music I hear in my head when I go to write,” admits Mariel. “I think of the things that make me upset when I’m writing lyrics, but I never write when I’m upset. I don’t do anything when I’m really sad,” she carries on before concluding, “It’s not intentional, that’s just the way I write.”

“I realised how things could change so quickly,” Mariel sings on ‘Top of Our Lungs’, the joyous conclusion to ‘All The Ways You Let Me Down’. An idea that 2014 tested. From a handful of dates on The Warped Tour, a stint that’s been deservedly upgraded to include every date for the 2015 event, to the controversy surrounding Mariel’s light-hearted insight into being the only girl in her band, Candy Hearts have had a rollercoaster year.

“People were saying I was dangerous to young woman. Dangerous? I’m standing in my pajamas crying because of the reaction. Those girls are so mean. They harassed me for weeks after I wrote that article and it was just supposed to be fun. If you’re the wrong kind of feminist, they turn on you in a second and that’s so weird to me. It allows men to mistreat you, because we’re mistreating ourselves. There are a lot of people who think there’s a right way to be a feminist and that isolate a lot of other people. It’s just not right,” Mariel explains.

“It’s made me want to speak up a lot less,” she confesses, “Although, I don’t know if I will. I have a blabbermouth.”

“It’s a New Jersey thing,” John smirks, much to Mariel’s grinning annoyance.

“There aren’t many girls in the scene but there are definitely starting to be more which is wonderful and amazing. Tonight Alive and We Are The In Crowd are killing it right now and I love them, so it’s cool to be part of that. To be part of a scene that’s growing,” Mariel gushes.

“The only thing I ever speak up about is being a girl in a band because I want to encourage others to play guitar and be in a band. A lot of young girls come up to me at shows and tell me they’re afraid, that they don’t know how to start a band and that no one will take them seriously. For that reason I do want to encourage girls to pursue what they want to pursue in life, regardless of if they feel like it’s right for a woman to do or not,” she challenges.

“The funny thing about (making it) is that we’ve passed that point eighteen times over,” Mariel admits.

“Every since I first picked up a guitar at 15 years old, I was like ‘If I was just to do that, that’s enough for me. I’ve made it.’ But when I reached that point, it didn’t feel I’d made it yet, so there’s another thing. There will never be a point where we’ll have made it, in my mind but I’m super happy for where we are, and so thankful. I’m genuinely psyched on it because we’ve made it eighteen times over in my childhood mind.

There’s a conversation about glitter. It’s about the natural, intelligent light shining onto the world of pop punk. It’s about that annoyingly playful stubbornness. It’s about Candy Hearts and how they sparkle so.

The Xcerts. There Is, Only True.

•14/01/2015 • Leave a Comment

“How much further are we going to go with this?”

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The Xcerts. There Is, Only True.
A Rare Interview with Jordan and Tom.

“Murray’s personal investment in the album is huge. It means a lot to him but there was a point where we were thinking, ‘Are you sure you want it so on your sleeve?’ ”
Jordan Smith is explaining the pitfalls of watching your friend and band mate go through hell.
“It wouldn’t be true to him, or us, or the band if he were to sugarcoat it though,” he continues before Tom Heron sums it up.
“That, to me, is an Xcerts record.”

It’s November 3rd, which means one thing for The Xcerts; it’s judgment day. After four years, their new album ‘There Is Only You’ is released into the wild. It’s ‘A hopeful record” with “a big lean on classic rock” describes Tom. “ Seventies songwriting with nineties production. All dreamy and romantic.” But as Jordan and Tom sit comfortably in The Roundhouse’s bar, a relaxed calm takes the place of any nerves. And on reflection, it’s easy to see why.

The Xcerts formed in 2001 after a chance meeting between Murray Macleod (guitar/vocals) and Jordan Smith (bass) at their school in Aberdeen before moving to Brighton and recruiting Exeter-born Tom Heron (drums) in 2006. Three albums followed; 2009’s ‘In The Cold Wind We Smile’, 2010’s ‘Scatterbrain and ‘There Is Only You’ as well as tours with the likes of Manchester Orchestra, Brand New and Biffy Clyro. Today sees them in the company of old friends as they celebrate the release of their new album with a support slot with Twin Atlantic at The Roundhouse, London.

Dual stories have been battling at the tip of everyone’s tongue in the run up to tonight. The unprecedented four-year gap between albums and Murray who, after struggling with his past decided that his future lay with his other–half, found himself single. Those aren’t the stories told on ‘There Is Only You’ though. Instead, the third album from The Xcerts is a tale of self-discovery.

“It’s always album number three where really good bands start being bands,” starts Tom. “It was in the back of all of our minds anyway, ‘How much further are we going to go with this?’ but this is without a doubt the best record we could have made.”

“We were lucky to have that time,” furthers Jordan. “It gave us time to evolve those songs properly. It wouldn’t have been as good of a record if we had recorded it earlier, it happened at the exact right time.”

“We both take our influences from our respective hometowns,” explains Jordan. ”So Murray and I have that grey, Scottish disposition that hangs like a big grey cloud over your head while Tom is…”
“I’m a bit more of the, ‘Everything’s going to be alright! Don’t worry guys, it’ll be fine,’“
This personal history can be felt across ‘There Is Only You’. One-third optimism, two-thirds stark realism, all tied together with the infinite wonder and freedom that is Brighton. It’s no wonder that The Xcerts music means so much to people.

“People apply meaning to it,” explains Tom. “They’ll make it relate to their own personal experience, no matter what Murray was writing about.”
Jordan continues, “I love that man, but I would not want to be in his shoes because of the weight people put on him because of those lyrics. That said, to think that our music can help someone going through a shitty time, that’s the best thing a record can do for anyone, right? To physically help their lives in some way, and not just make a thing that they can listen to, that’s the best thing you can hope for.”

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Later that night, The Xcerts play a triumphant set of old and future classics. It’s been a long time coming and not only do Tom, Jordan and Murray look at ease on stage, but it’s like they’ve never been away. Welcome home.

“This feels like what we should be doing,” promises Tom. “Six months ago, if you tried, you could have seen an end to The Xcerts but now I can’t. Now the album is out, all I can see is shows.”
“You entertain the notion of it,” admits Jordan before continuing. “But its just cynicism and negativity. It never hangs around for long. It’s better to burn out than fade away. I won’t let that happen. You stamp it out. You stamp that fire out and piss on the ashes.”

“This is the only thing any of us want to do. We put our cards on the table and we did it a long time ago. We’re sticking with our hand and, at the moment, it’s looking alright.”

Live. Against Me! The Face of Punk to Come.

•08/01/2015 • Leave a Comment

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Against Me! The Face Of Punk To Come.

“Let’s fuck shit up!” Laura Jane Grace demands; body hanging from mic stand, guitar hanging from shoulder, crowd hanging on every word. The confrontational hammer of ‘Drinking With The Jocks’ has just cleared a path for the shuddering “I Was A Teenage Anarchist’ to run down. The crowd is as reactionary, engaged and flailing as you’d expect from the bands first headline shows in the UK since 2011. It’s not just the immediate physical fuckery that makes Against Me’s return such a sweeping triumph though.

Since the release of their sixth album, the glorious and gut-wrenching ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’, Against Me! or more specifically, Laura Jane Grace has been challenging the acceptable face of Punk. Her hyper personal struggle with Gender Dysphoria, a subject at the heart of the album but one that remains untouched by mainstream music and society as a whole, has provided a stepping stone for discussion, a point of reference for the issue and a platform of pure, unadultered expression.

Writing isn’t a choice, it’s done out of necessity. To satisfy that little voice, bands continually claim. Tonight, live and at home on record it genuinely feels like Laura had two choices. Two paths. Live or die.

But here she is. Grin etched on her face, flanked by passionate bandmates and before an enthused congregation. The songs, written at a time of despair, confusion and hopelessness, become glorious placards of celebration. Held aloft, the classical wailing of Osama Bin Laden As The Crucified Christ, the dinosaur stomp of “Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues” or the alcohol soaked soul of ‘Dead Friends’ have become victorious anthems. Lessons heard fought. Beacons of hope.

There’s a beautiful moment midway through the evening where Billy the Kid joins the band for a frantic rendition of ‘Borne On The FM Waves’. They share a mic, arm in arm and face to face before an embrace after watching one another cut a unique swathe around the stage. It’s tender and feminine. For want of a better word, it’s a sisterhood.

As the closing howl of ‘We Laugh At Danger (And Break All The Rules)’ rings out, there’s a question mark over what comes next. Movement has sustained Laura Jane Grace for eleven months now and as that vehicle reaches the point of pause, darkness looms. Her bravery and the ability to wrestle hope out of clenched teeth is as inspiring as it is important. For now though, and forever more, Laura Jane Grace has changed music. She’s fucked shit up, in the most necessary and perfect way.

The Best 35 Releases of 2014. (5-1)

•07/01/2015 • Leave a Comment

2014 will always be the year that was 2014.
Here is a rundown of The Best 35 Releases of 2014. 

(10-6 available here)

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The Best 35 Releases of 2014

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5. Nina Nesbitt – Peroxide.

In the run up to ‘Peroxide’, everything about Nina Nesbitt seemed to fit into neat little boxes. Folk infused pop from a girl and her guitar. Songs about growing up and breaking down as she stumbles, but never falls. And while those charming grins do make an appearance on Nina Nesbitt’s debut, the box they came packaged in lays tattered and burning in the gutter, along with those assumptions.

From the fiery stomp of the title track, through the dizzying vocal skip at the close of ‘Align’ up until the indie ditty of ‘We’ll Be Back For More’ Nina Nesbitt toys with style and direction before launching herself across her musical pallet for the next big adventure. It sounds messy, and at times it is, but by gifting her debut a sense of genuine excitement, Nina Nesbitt shows not only her willingness to follow her artistic muse but a vision that is befitting her talent and passion. Bold, bright and without apology, ‘Peroxide’ is the burning masterpiece of an artist who’s just getting into their stride.

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4. Marmozets – The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets.

‘The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets.’ Has an album ever title ever been quite so fitting?

That reckless fire of youth burns bright as Marmozets have not only put out a record that sits proudly in a bustling UK scene, but lays down the gauntlet for ever other band in their peripherals to face. Bratty, brash and on so brilliant, ‘The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets’ bounces on the balls of its feet as it darts this way and that, constantly in sight but just out of reach as the five-piece daintily craft a head on collision of crunch and quaint. The nimble vocal display from Becca is a tour de force of passion and range as she elbows her way to the forefront of young British superstars while the rest of the band each carve their own path of personality and poise. More than simply an impressive debut, ‘The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets’ is the sound of a band kicking down the doors, expectation trampled and a generation taking note. It’s a breathtaking listening experience, so do try and keep up.

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3. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

Laura Jane Grace made her narrative concerning Gender Dysphoria a very public one. But, within minutes of listening to the bedroom confessional whir of ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ her struggles, fears and dreams became yours. Written from an extremely private place but delivered with the inclusive, call to arms brevity that only the best storytellers can muster, Against Me! have not only created one of the most vital records of recent memory, but they’ve done it with style. ‘Two Coffins’ cradles a flickering candle of hope in the face of assured doom while the fight music climb of ‘Osama Bin Laden As The Crucified Christ’ is as confrontational as it is tender. ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ is a brave album of balance and composure in a world that’s done all it can to throw Against Me! to the wolves.

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2. Candy Hearts – All The Ways You Let Me Down.

On first glance, Candy Heart’s ‘All The Ways You Let Me Down’ is a perfect slice of glittering pop-punk. All button badges and sideways glances, the New York three-piece looked to have taken the sugary nature of their name and found a vein. But nestling just under that crisp outer shell lies a gorgeous world of upfront hurt and open wounds. Once you’ve stumbled upon this shady netherworld, the vibrant delivery will endear you to explore each of the eleven tracks that make up ‘All The Ways You Let Me Down’ with such fervent care that Mariel’s open-ended stories will fit into your life like those of your best friend.

Jubilant couplets will giddily tell you off “I’m not your video game/I’m sick of always being played,” while the colourful shimmy of pop doused punk will take you dancing. ‘All The Ways You Let Me Down’ is a shimmering ball of energy that wrestles light and shade into a fabulous maze of betrayal, optimism and honesty. You could spend hours finding your way out, but when there’s so much more to explore, why would you?

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1. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love.

‘Say Yes To Love’ by Perfect Pussy is a caustic masterpiece. The distorted chaos entwines you in a web of melody and repulsion before dragging you into an ethereal world of wonder on brutality. It’s an album that needs to be breathed in, held and rolled across your tongue while simultaneously held up to the light to try and find clues to its mastery. The screeched/cried/sing-song delivery of Meredith Graves’ vocals are absorbed in the ever tightening threads that struggle to hold ‘Say Yes To Love’ together, but the words find strength in one another and soon find a home within.

Say Yes To Love vocalised thoughts and feelings that had been eating away at me while the bands constant battle with injustice on every field has made me open my eyes, question institutions and generally try to be a better person. Perfect Pussy are the most brilliant and important band of 2014 and ‘Say Yes To Love’ is powerful beyond conventional musical impact.

You can read my interview with Meredith Graves at DIY and a review of their London show here.

The Best 35 Releases of 2014. (10-6)

•07/01/2015 • 2 Comments

2014 will always be the year that was 2014.
Here is a rundown of The Best 35 Releases of 2014. 

(15-11 available here)

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The Best 35 Releases of 2014

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10. Pulled Apart By Horses – Blood.

For their third record Pulled Apart By Horses have made a studio album. ‘Blood’ is as extravagant and lush as you would expect from a band of petulant underdogs and from the rolling echo that introduces ‘Hot Squash’ to the squawking feedback that bids ‘Golden Monument’ adieu, Pulled Apart By Horses are exploring new ground. Stepping back from the frantic venom and giving themselves room to maneuver, the Leeds four-piece have found a voice that captures the youthful snarl of old, but also offers sage wisdom and a launch pad for the future. ‘Blood’ can only be described as the most exciting and promising ‘Horses record to date.

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9. The So So Glos – Blowout.

Thankfully 2014 saw The So So Glos second album, ‘Blowout’ get a UK release. All nervous energy and destructive shakes, ‘Blowout’ starts, ends and is broken up by, audio recordings of the four members at various states of childhood. From calling out Kurt Cobain on his suicide, to a ragged, youthful rendition of “Let’s Rock ‘Till We Die”, The So So Glos, a band of brothers by blood and circumstance, live, breathe and embody every single one of the scratched punk values that drive their breezy surf punk forward. More than the story, or the credentials, ‘Blowout’ is a monumental collection of music. ‘Son of an American’ is a vibrant pop romp while the title track is a breezy collision of kids television and gnarled punk. Messages are ingrained behind a reckless sense of fun, gifting ‘Blowout’ a layered appeal that’ll have you questioning your use of the internet before thrashing about in public places.

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8. The Xcerts – There Is Only You.

‘There Is Only You’ came levied with a heavy sense of expectation from a band who’ve had to endure a constant stream of comparisons and false promises. Yet the third album from The Xcerts is a gloriously coherent stream of personal discovery. Opening with a majestic funeral march before kicking into the album proper, ‘There Is Only You’ is a record of grand romance and the engulfing shadow that it casts. The meta-pop of ‘Pop Song’ is as simple as it is genius while ‘Shaking In The Water’ might be the most jubilant sounding song of desperation ever. The Xcerts set out to make an album that would define their band and with this display, they’ve forever tied themselves to brilliance.

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7. Gnarwolves – Gnarwolves.

Humble and with their sights set only on tomorrow, Gnarwolves are the kind of approachable idols who stumble across admiration and handle it perfectly. Their self-titled debut, a sketchbook of attitude and ferocity, is a testament to this. From the confrontational embrace of ‘Prove It’ through the arms-up-high defiance of ‘Smoking Kills’ until the tender restrain of ‘Eat Dynamite, Kid’, ‘Gnarwolves’ is a mission statement of getting outside and grabbing life. It’s rugged, flawed and rough around the edges, thus making it the perfect soundtrack of the everyday and probably explains why it’s captured the imaginations of a fresh batch of the Gnarwolves Cru. Fuck you.

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6. Pup – Pup.

Inbetween seeing the breakout band of the year, Royal Blood, and a fleeting reunion of one of my first musical loves, Forward Russia, I stumbled across Pup. And thank the stars I did. From the crashing opening tumble of ‘Guilt Trip’, ‘Pup’ doesn’t relent in its exasperation, its passion or its charm. Any album that has the colossal pop-angst anthem of ‘Reservoir’ on, was always going to feature highly. Song of the year, right there. But ‘Pup’ isn’t one song. It’s ten tracks of pomp and honesty that refuse to sink into the background. It’s a considered assault of songwriting mastery, recorded chemistry and youthful exuberance. And perhaps, most importantly, it’s riotous fun. Sure, if you listen to it in public, people are going to stare as you scream the words silently into your chest, but you can rest safe in the knowledge that you had a much more enjoyable commute.

 

The Best 35 Releases of 2014. (15-11)

•05/01/2015 • 1 Comment

2014 will always be the year that was 2014.
Here is a rundown of The Best 35 Releases of 2014. 

(20-16 available here)

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The Best 35 Releases of 2014

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15. Frank Iero andthe Cellabration – Stomachaches.

While Gerard Way has been crafting another project, Frank Iero has been himself. From the spelling mistakes of the bands name, ‘andthe cellabration’ through the full stop happy track names, ‘Stomachaches’ is an album of disarming charm and honesty. There’s still the messages of defiance that defined his previous band but they’re presented without assumption as Frank finds himself in the spotlight. While there’s a raised hand here, or a blinking eye there, it’s an attention that he channels into a gloomy, gnarled world of whimsy and brilliance.

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14. Lauren Aquilina – Liars.

It’s rare to find an artist who has a vision for their releases. It’s rarer still for that vision to be both actualised, and intelligent. And then there’s the unique. From the self-release of her first EP “Fools’ in 2012, it’s been an exhilarating journey for Lauren Aquilina. While 2014 saw many wonderful things happen for Lauren, the release of the third chapter in her trilogy of EPs was perhaps the greatest. Theatrical and epic, while maintaining the tribulations of youth, ‘Liars’ is another accomplished collection of songs that shows off both her skill as a performer and her craft as a songwriter. It’s breathtaking and wonderful, and the best thing part is, she’s still got so much to give.

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13. Noyo Mathis – Endure.

For their third EP, south coast darlings Noyo Mathis decided on a more positive approach to their sound. Taking the idea of one good thing in a sea of bad and threading it through a buoyant and acrobatic five tracks, Endure sees the three-piece reach new heights of musical and lyrical prowess. With songs of regret, lovelorn admiration and a persistent sense of hope, Noyo Mathis craft tales that tap into a higher plain while also making your gut yearn for the comfort of another.

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12. Solemn Sun – Solemn Sun.

Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun are dead. Long live Solemn Sun. In a bold move, the band put the brakes on a career they deserved, but didn’t want and realigned their weapons to launch an assault elsewhere. The result is an atmospheric blitz of post-rock come hip-hop that swaggers with the confidence of arena spectacle while meaning enough to create that celebratory atmosphere anywhere. ‘Ruin’ is a triumph of a pop song in wolves clothing while the jangle of ‘I Saw’ is a terrifyingly upfront beast. And this only serves as a first glimpse of a band reborn. Brace for impact.

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11. Maybeshewill – Fair Youth.

The fourth album from Maybeshewill ‘Fair Youth’ is a grower. Gone are the aggressive vocal samples and call to arms mantra that’s shaped their previous work. Instead, ‘Fair Youth’ is a freefalling goliath of texture, intimacy and pristine tranquility. The landscape for which Maybeshewill can play with has opened up and now, not even the sky is out of reach. The stretching dive of ‘Sanctuary’ soars with the freedom normally reserved for metaphors about birds while the swirling caress of ‘Permanence’ is laced with close-your-eye escapism. ‘Fair Youth’ has been pieced together so carefully, that it’s not until you step back and admire it as a body of work can you truly appreciate the craft, the majesty and the wonder within.